Wednesday 22 February 2012

Walthamstow Market...Need I Say More

O my goodness. I cannot believe I have not been to Walthamstow Market before! After picking up from various sewing blogs that this was THE place to go for fabrics in London I decided to make the trek up there this Saturday. Well I actually decided to go two months ago but something got in the way every Saturday until it became this one. So as it had taken such a long time to get there and probably would be a long time before I did again I decided to really go for it and went armed with my spreadsheet of upcoming projects I am looking for fabrics for and a bundle of cash!

Well let me tell you on my return that bundle of cash was not as depleted as I expected but I had bundles of fabric as planned! I could not get over the prices for the quality and variety of fabrics available. I came back with enough fabric for 4 dresses and 2 tops as well as a bulk buy of both black and white fusible interfacing for just over £30! £30! Even on Goldhawk Road I'm used to fingering fabrics wistfully and then subtly edging out the door before even asking how much per metre to save myself the embarrassment of having to leave when it's £15/m and I need 3. Here I began in my usual manner of avoiding all sales assistants and trying to find indications of price on the roll to give me an idea but by the end of my trip I was striding confidently up and asking for 3 metres before even considering the price! Well who wouldn't when basically everything is £2-3/m at most. Anyway on to my purchases and my plans for them.

This may be my purchase of the day. I thought I was really going to struggle to find a fabric to make this dress out of as all the suggestions with the pattern were for sheer floaty fabrics but there is no indication of how to combat this with a lining in the making up instructions. Amazingly perfect fabrics for this dress were what I found all day! This particular one was only £2/m. The picture doesn't really do this fabric justice but in reality it's a beautiful lightweight silver/grey silk blend (I think! My fabric knowledge is awful!) which has a gorgeous drape and has a lovely watery effect when moving. I think it's going to be ideal for this dress, although this project is one planned for a way off yet when my dress making skills are a little more suited to working with such a slippery fabric.

This is a lovely lightweight denim in a really unusual colour, I think it was £2/m. I did buy this because I was looking desperately for a fabric which wouldn't be too floppy for my Jackie O inspired dress (right hand picture). I was super keen to find something to make this from as this is the kind of dress I would wear all the time and I think it's likely I will make a number of versions, however I really struggled to find something just right. I think this is partly down to me not having a strong idea of what I was looking for a being a bit overwhelmed by all the choice and now I've had time to reflect I think a medium weight cotton twill would be a good option. When I got home I realised that this dress might not work particularly well in full denim, well at least I'm unlikely to wear a full denim dress so I think I may instead use this fabric to make a little skirt as pictured on the left. I have already begun one version of this skirt but production has ground to a halt as I think the wool I initially selected from my stash is a little too thick.

This is another favourite buy of the day! A beautiful purple lightweight wool with a fleck in it at £2.50/m which when I saw just screamed Joan Holloway to me across the shop. An ideal choice I think to make up one of these vintage patterns from my Nan's collection I think you'll agree! I'm thinking the version with the fitted rather than full skirt of the pattern on the left. I cannot wait to get started on this and think this may be my entry into Julia Bobbin's Mad Men Dress Challenge.

This fabric was the bargain of the day! I again wanted a fabric with a little bit of structure for a summer dress that wouldn't be too liable to cause me to flash my knickers in the tempermental weather of a British summer. I also wanted something that would have enough structure to create a little bit of support and strong straps for this sundress again from my Famous Frocks pattern book. One of the fabric suggestions is seersucker which I would love to try but feel it might be a bit lightweight for anything other than wearing on holiday. I had almost given up on finding something for this when this print caught my eye as I was leaving the final shop of the day, and then I saw the price. £1/m! I'm not sure what sort of fabric it is but it's beautifully crisp and strong while having a lovely smooth finish. Plus the print is just perfect, not too big or small. I know there is a trend within my colour choices for the day and I do want to branch out into some brighter colours but I want to begin by making some clothes I'm definitely going to get some wear out of.

The final two fabrics are both prints for Colette Sorbettos. I've had this pattern ready to work with for ages and can't wait to get playing with it after seeing everyone's versions all over the internet. The first fabric is a gorgeous silk at £3 for the 1 metre you need. This was from Saeed Fabrics which may have been my favourite shop of the day, I bought a lot in there although I did feel slightly hassled to make a purchase. The second is a printed cotton lawn also £3/m from the stall outside Sainsburys. There was another fabric on this stall which I wish I had bought with hindsight but when I asked how much and was told £4/m after buying fabrics for £1-2/m it seemed expensive, ridiculous I know! It was a beautiful medium weight floral print cotton which would have been perfect for a casual summer dress thinking about it now. Never mind there's plenty more fabric in the world!

The only thing I was disappointed by was the lack of decent stretch fabrics on offer. I was in particular looking for a plain or printed jersey to make a Farah Fawcett inspired wrap dress from my Famous Frocks book and was planning on this being one of my first projects as it seems quite a basic start and I'm keen to experiment with knit fabrics. However every jersey I found was UNBELIEVABLY sheer. Literally if I held it up I could see clear as day everything happening behind. I'm looking to make an easy to wear spring/summer dress that I can just throw on in the morning and feel confident and comfortable in, not something through which everyone can see my pants. And I don't want to line a simply jersey wrap dress, I want this project to be quick and simple. Has anyone else had this problem looking for stretch fabrics before? And does anyone have any suggestions on where to go to find something a bit thicker and more substantial, London or internet based?

All in all, a very successful trip. Plus my little spreadsheet really did help me keep focused and make some good decisions, even if I was a little bit embarrassed to get it out and study it intently under the watchful eye of the stall holder!


  1. Hi, I'm also looking for good jersey fabrics, did you in the meantime find any for a good price anywhere? thanks ;)

  2. Hello! Sorry I've only just seen your comment!
    My quest for good quality jersey still continues! I had a bit more luck with variety on Goldhawk Road but again it was slightly dubious fabric content and a bit to thin for my liking! I've recently bought some jersey online from Fabric Godmother which I was quite chuffed with when it arrived. I thought it was risky as I couldn't see the fabric before purchase but if it's got a good explanation of the weight and composition I think that can be really helpful.
    Let me know if you've found any jersey treasure troves out there!


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